January 12, 2011

Insaniyat (1955)

  • Title: Insaniyat (Humanity)
    Year: 1955
    Cast: Zippy, Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar, Bina Rai, Jayant, P. Jairaj, Vijaylaxmi, Shobhna Samarth.

    I've been unfair to this movie. First, it lay around on my DVD shelf for about two years- I'd periodically pick it up, see Dilip Kumar on it (I'm just about OK with him; not a crazy fan), then keep it back, even though Dev and Bina were calling my name. So two years passed before I realized that it was the ONLY Dilip-Dev starrer ever! I had to watch. And loved it for completely different reasons.

    Insaaniyat is a remake of the Tamil film Palletoori Pilla (1950) and was produced by Gemini studios, with direction by SS Vasan and music by C. Ramachandra. It isn't C. Ramachandra's best, but the score isn't bad at all.

    The movie opens by horsemen riding to a small village, and it looks like they are robbers...

..apparently not so- they are in fact the king's soldiers! Zangoora (I think that's a lovely name :)) is a evil king, and has his men regularly raid the villages. For once, one of the villagers, Bina is completely pissed with this behavior, and she gives a good piece of her mind...

..to a mustachioed Dev, who looks completely ashamed of his facial hair (as he should; it docent suit him at all). He is also completely converted out of his past follies by Bina's scolding.... Dev is so changed by Bina's words that he heads right back to Zangooraa (Jayant), who is dressed in weird-Roman-style skirts, cowboy boots and jodhpurs- go figure. Rather than call him out on his sartorial sense, Dev attempts to persuade Zangoora to change his ways, and when Zangoora scoffs, Dev simply leaves behind his helmet and insignia, and takes off. Once this is done, we finally meet up with the REAL star of the movie, the probable reason why this run-of-the-mill caper was a "super"hit- Zippy the chimpanzee. Zippy is in jail (?!)....
...where he meets up and befriends Agha... Zippy is downright adorable and has a parallel story line of his own, riding over Agha's parallel comic love story. More on this later, since our other hero is being introduced in a scene clearly reflecting cruelty to animals. Dilip plays a villager (from that one and only village where Bina lives), and we first meet him when he is having his pet ram fight another. I don't approve.
The intro over, Dev soon shows up at the village, with the agenda of freeing the villagers from Zangoora. Bina doesn't believe his sincerity, but then propitiously, Dev saves her from a wild bull, with some assistance from Dilip...

Since this is the magic world of cinema, Dev gets hurt while doing so, which act auto-magically makes Bina fall in love with him :S So of course everyone gets sympathetic with Dev and takes care of him...Dilip is sweet on Bina, so he also feels a burst of friendliness for Dev (what with Dev saving Bina's life, etc.). Dilip stands up for Dev when the latter campaigns for the village to get with him on fighting against Zangoora. And so it begins! Dev teaches the villagers to fight,..even sings them songs of encouragement in the interim.....AND even has them convert the village into a fort!!! All done while singing blithely...And so time passes (as it will), and now that the village is strengthened, Dilip's mom (Shobhna) reminds him of his wedding plans with Bina......too bad, 'cos Bina is seeing Dev already! Dilip is broken hearted, but breaks his engagement with Bina to get her with Dev...
...and even fixes it with his mom and her dad.

Less than an hour into the movie and here we are, already witnessing a wedding!

Minor hitch here though- Zangoora who has apparently been on an overseas campaign while Dev was out inciting the villagers, is finally back, and attacks the village mid-wedding. I have to say the battle is shot very well, considering there are no special effects being used here.

And Zippy gets into action, cutting the enemy's lassoes and saving the fort! Of course the Village wins, drives back Zangoora and everything is perfect- for the next few years in fact. Dev and Bina even have a baby, and Dilip plays nanny :)
Zippy too has had other job opportunities. After playing soldier, he has now turned teacher to the village kids...... and even a musician in his spare time, among other things (yes really!).

Since all is going well, and Zangoora hasn't bothered them in a while, the villagers decide to celebrate with a festival. Dev, who hasn't had enough with the mustachios, embarrasses himself further by playing horses with Bina :)Of curse, Zangoora has been planning for this very thing, and attacks them right in the middle of the festival. I have to admit I think Dev and Dilip look amazing here: Another battle happenes, and the villagers drive back Zangoora and his army again, but this time Dis captured by the enemy. Look how he sneers at them- love him!
And he appears, wrapped in chains, and bravely defies Zangoora.
Bina, true to form, weeps in anguish when Dilip tells her of Dev's capture. She lets random accusations fly ... ... so of curse, Dilip, Agha and Zippy get together and go to Zangoora's castle to rescue Dev. The only person with any real action here is Zippy, who passes messages to Agha's girl, who is Zangoora's maid...
Zippy even steals Zangoora's keys right from under his nose...
..all while getting drunk on Zangoora's wine.
'Cos he is that cool!
Zippy also steals some uniforms for Dilip,
.. so that he can get to Dev and sneak him out, while he himself.. gets to Zangoora...
...even plotting with the queen (Vijayluxmi), who is sick of Zangoora's evil.
Meanwhile, Dev has swiftly made his way back to Bina. Unfortunately, Bina's been a tad careless with the baby, who has gone and lost itself...
... and is with Zangoora's men in his castle! Eagle-eye Dilip recognizes the baby and swoops upon it...
..while Dev is already at the castle doors with the Villagers' army. This is amazing, cos he has made it from the castle to the village and back in a remarkably short time. I'm guessing helicopters, in the least, had to have been employed.
Meanwhile, Dilip and the baby are captured and presented to Zangoora...
...and while Zangoora tries to threaten Dev with dropping the baby off the castle walls, its Zippy to the rescue!
Yep, Zippy actually grabs the baby from Zangoora and takes off..

...giving it to Dilip rather safely (the kid was WAILing throughout! add cruelty towards kids to the list!)... Dev takes on Zangoora...
... getting off his panther-claw hand. Hopefully, no panthers were harmed in the making of said glove, since it appears quite fake. This is the only time we get to admire it though, since chances are it and Jayant were both largely edited out to accomodate Zippy's doings.
Dilip meanwhile runs to the village, but not before getting stabbed to the heart by Jairaj, Zangoora's second-in-command.
...and so it ends, with a bromance moment...

Random comments:

  1. Zippy is clearly the star here, and I'm sure the producers recognized that after the movie was done, since lots of random scenes of Zippy are edited in, and clearly, lots of scenes of Jayant, Dilip and Dev have been edited out.
  2. Neither Dilip or Dev would have been happy with the movie represented them. Its probably why neither acted with the other again.
  3. I'm strongly opposed to the use of animals in movies, since they are usually maltreated. However, Zippy is really brilliant here, and I do hope he was truly treated like the star he was. I cant say the same about other animals used in this movie- rams, bull, etc.- they were definitely mistreated, and that's to be condoned.
  4. Bina is very beautiful and spunky here- I can totally see how smitten Prem Nath must have been with her- I find their marriage very romantic.
  5. Almost the entire film was shot on stage, which was probably the norm. However, the few outdoor shots are very well done, especially in the battle scenes- lots of potential there.

And in the end ... Watch it, on a quiet evening when there is little else to do. Zippy is worth every moment.

Epilogue I did a mad burst of research on Zippy, and here are a few references; I have to say he had a life well-lived!:


Bollywood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

TBF: Its the perfect kind of movie we could have watched together! omg I had > 25 shots just of zippy, but uploading them is such a hassle :) when you DO watch it, u will find him hogging at least a good 20% of the screen time, which is no mean feat, considering he actually outplayed Dev and Dilip.

Banno said...

Wow! I didn't even know there was a Dilip-Dev starrer. I wonder who got first credit in the film?

I love the DVD cover. Dev looks like Zippy in it!

I'd love to see this film, also for Beena.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Banno: On the DVD cover, I have Dilip first, but in the actual credits, Dev and Dilip both appear side by side, on the same screen- me thinks Gemini is a very smart production house!